I hope everyone is well and looking forward to putting all your homework vertical ovals to good use.
I’ve chosen an unusual face for us to begin drawing.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor was described as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her facial features meet the criteria of symmetrical and proportional perfection, but not many human faces do.
Most of us look out from faces that are asymmetrical; the left side of our face is different in proportion when compared to the right side. We can test this with a mirror held vertically at a right angle to our face, against the tip of our nose. The reflected image may surprise you.
I have provided a face-to-front image of Liz, with even lighting, and in monochrome, so we can explore the variations in tones from our 6B to 8B soft pencils. I also have provided scanned step-by-step progressions, so you can see how my interpretive mind and method works! And some explanation notes…
Are you ready? Is your kneadable eraser handy? First, write the date up in the corner of your page… Let’s start at the very beginning…
Basic Construction of Facial Proportions I look at my blank page and imagine a vertical oval in the centre, large enough so there is space to add ears either side, and hair later. Draw lightly, round and round. You don’t have to get it right first time!! There are about 16 lightly sketched ovals on my page here!
Now draw a pale vertical line down the centre of the oval. I sketched my line roughly, almost straight. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Please don’t use a ruler!!
Now determine the horizontal centre of the oval and lightly sketch a horizontal line across the oval. This is the ‘eye position’ line because the top of the oval is the top of the head, not the hairline. Trust me! Upon this line is where Liz’s famous mauve eyes will be positioned.
Now, look at the space beneath this horizontal ‘eye position’ line and the bottom edge of the oval. Roughly determine halfway and lightly draw another horizontal line. This line will guide us as to where to draw the tip of Liz’s nose. Now look at the space beneath this horizontal line and the bottom of the oval, determine halfway, and lightly draw another horizontal line across the oval. This will be where Liz’s famous red lips will be positioned.
Steps 4 and 5
The Eyes Have It! It has been observed by experts that most human eyes are positioned with a space between them that equals the width of one eye. This space appears across the bridge of the nose. So, to draw this structure accurately, first look at the picture of Liz.
Observe the size of her eyes, and how much space they fill, from the outer corner at the temple to the inner corner, at the tear duct. (Don’t include her eyebrows yet.)
At the intersection of your first central vertical line and the horizontal ‘eye position’ line, lightly draw an eye-sized horizontal oval around this intersection point, so the oval is centred. Then lightly draw another horizontal oval, same size, on the ‘eye position’ line, to the right of the first one, and then lightly draw another to the left of the first one, so you have three, all the same size, all on the ‘eye position’ line.
Now you can take your eraser and remove the centre horizontal oval. It has served its purpose. At this stage of the process, this basic facial construction ‘grid’ could be developed into almost anybody!
Once you know how to construct and position the main facial elements, you can manipulate the proportions to capture any likeness, including those with asymmetrical features. Look at actor Shannen Doherty, whose ‘eye position’ line is not conventionally horizontal… her left eye socket is not level with her right eye socket. It’s one of her unique facial features, and that’s how you would draw her. Draw what you see.
Practise these basic facial construction steps, and experiment with other peoples’ faces. Try a self-portrait! (Remember your mirror image, that you see all the time, is back-to-front to how others see your face.) Next time we’ll continue developing the beautiful face of Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
Until then, I wish you well. And if we’re in another lockdown, keep drawing! Cheers Lois